Time for EU law to mainstream reusable bottles and containers

Manufacturers who wish to set up systems for reusable bottles and containers face a barrier which is difficult to overcome: there are no common standards for reusable packaging at EU level.

Reusable bottles – source: tappwater

The lack of a legal framework results in systems which are not interoperable, making it difficult for trailblazing businesses to compete with companies that opt for single-use alternatives. In a position paper, ECOS asked the European Commission to push unnecessary single-use packaging off the EU market and set ambitious targets, minimum requirements and monitoring measures supporting the uptake of reusables and an incremental improvement of reuse systems efficiency. 

The position paper was sent to the European Commission as feedback to the ongoing revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). To mainstream reuse and refill, EU law should set clear definitions and ambitious targets to phase out single-use packaging, and drive the uptake of reuse. As a second step, CEN standards should develop harmonised sector-specific reusable packaging formats, systems and protocols. Samy Porteron, Programme Manager at ECOS, said: Entrepreneurs and innovators too often need to design systems from scratch, leading to incompatibilities among packaging formats, logistics chains and washing lines. Outdated laws are the main barrier to boosting reusables. Let’s not forget that the EU can now cut millions of tonnes of plastic litter at the stroke of a pen.

ECOS Position Paper – The role of legislation and standards in mainstreaming reusable packaging 

About ECOS: ECOS is an international NGO with a network of members and experts advocating for environmentally friendly technical standards, policies and laws. We ensure the environmental voice is heard when they are developed and drive change by providing expertise to policymakers and industry players, leading to the implementation of strong environmental principles. Learn more here.


EU Reporter Correspondent, press release, 2021-07-13


CEN European Committee for Standardization


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